Closed-Loop, Axial Temperature Control of Etched Silicon Microcolumn for Tunable Thermal Gradient Gas Chromatography


Heating systems, Silicon, Nickel, Cooling, Fabrication, Thermal analysis


Combining the resolution of conventional gas chromatography systems with the size factor of microGC systems is important for improving the affordability and portability of high performance gas analysis. Recent work has demonstrated the feasibility of high resolution separation of gases in a benchtop-scale short column system by controlling thermal gradients through the column. This work reports a microfabricated thermally controllable gas chromatographic column with a small footprint (approximately 6.25 cm²). The design of the 20 cm column utilizes 21 individually controllable thin film heaters and conduction cooling to produce a desired temperature profile. The reported device is capable of heating and cooling rates exceeding 8000 °C/min and can reach temperatures of 350 °C. The control methods allow for excellent disturbance rejection and precision to within +/- 1 °ree C. Each length of the column between heaters was demonstrated to be individually controllable and displayed quadratic temperature profiles. This paper focuses on the fabrication process and implementation of the thermal control strategy. [2019-0113]

Original Publication Citation

Schnepf, P., Davis, A., Iverson, B., Vanfleet, R., Davis, R., and Jensen, B., 2019, "Closed-loop, axial temperature control of etched silicon microcolumn for tunable thermal gradient gas chromatography," Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems (in press). DOI: 10.1109/JMEMS.2019.2953152

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor